Following an incident where an operator of a piece of heavy equipment rammed into their picket line, hitting municipal workers on strike, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 71 has condemned what they call an attempt to shift blame onto them.

“We have a legal right to set up picket lines, and we’ve done so safely and peacefully,” said CUPE 71, made up of the roughly 60 members on strike. “We did not sign up to being rammed by heavy equipment. We did not sign up to potentially being seriously hurt on the line. What happened was inexcusable and unjustifiable. So why, to add insult to literal injury, have some gone out of their way to blame us for what happened?”

The local is referring to an article published today in which focuses, at length, on the striking workers calling those who are brought in temporarily to do their work: “scabs”.

“That article briefly talked about this incredibly violent incident before going on and on about us calling strike-breakers “scabs”,” said CUPE 71. “From quoting the mayor clearly suggesting we antagonized the operator of the grader with this language, mentioning “hate speech”, and just fixating on this one word, the article is clearly sending a message to the public that we are to blame for this and that we are the hostile ones. But let me tell you this: hiring strike-breakers is antagonistic. And hiring strike-breakers who attack workers on legal strikes is even more antagonistic.”

“Also, the mayor is quoted as saying he wants to get back to the table,” said CUPE 71. “Well, we’ve always been ready for just that. But it needs to be on condition that the mayor and council are prepared to raise our wages. Our wages simply haven’t been catching up with the skyrocketing cost of living for our members, and the Town of Cochrane hasn’t addressed this crisis with its last offer. That’s what we’ve been on strike for – and we’re not dropping that demand for the Town to come back with a real offer, not even after being intimidated and blamed in the media.”

CUPE 71 members are on the picket lines at Cochrane City Hall, 171 4th Ave, Cochrane, ON.